Over the past few months, I’ve been editing my manuscript and preparing it for submission. It was more than spelling and punctuation. Every scene was evaluated based on a series of decisions – does it move the plot forward? Is it told from the correct perspective? Where are the extra words?
Extra words . . . I hate extra words. I think it’s because I use a lot of them. Taking them out tightens the story. “She started to cry” becomes “she cried”; “she realized that she’d made a mistake” becomes “she realized her mistake” or “trusting him had been a mistake.”
Editing is painful. I don’t think any writer puts something on paper thinking “well, that’s crap but it’ll do.” I wrote some beautiful (in my opinion) scenes that didn’t make my final draft. They didn’t further the plot.
For me, editing also meant reading the entire manuscript out loud – twice. Hearing it helped me catch parts that dragged and missing words. If I get bored or confused reading it, it’s a safe bet you’ll be, too.
I realized I can’t multitask. My edits were done in two parts. The first part was done in a hotel room where I had no distractions. The necessary cuts were clear, and I made wonderful headway. The second part was done at home. They weren’t as easy. I had to read the second part twice. Then I read it backwards – starting at the end and working up by paragraph.
The result of all that work? It’s a much better book than when I finished it in October. I’m proud of it. I submitted it in January.
And now someone else gets to pass judgment on it. It’s frightening. And the fright goes both ways – acceptance is almost as scary as rejection. Why? Acceptance means a whole new set of skills and expectations. They’ll let me know in March.
To keep my mind occupied (and me from obsessively checking my email), I’ve invested time in learning my craft. I’m using the skills I’ve learned while I’m writing my next book.